If even a small part of you is curious about moon phases and rituals, Goddesses, the Divine Feminine, Paganism, or witchcraft, you may have encountered the term Triple Goddess, as well as the popular symbol that represents this concept.
But what is the Triple Goddess? What does the triple moon symbol mean? Why is the Triple Goddess concept an important step in reclaiming the sacred feminine, within and without? And how can we harness this wisdom in our lives today?
What is the Triple Goddess?
The Triple Goddess is a deity, a celestial or divine being. She symbolizes some key aspects of femininity and life’s natural birth death rebirth cycle. The most common meaning given to the Triple Goddess is the three archetypes: Maiden, Mother, and Crone, which represent three major phases a woman cycles through in her life (but I believe there are more archetypes, which I’ll expand on later).
In modern Paganism, the Triple Goddess and Horned God are said to be counterparts—the feminine and masculine energies which together create the whole.
What does the Triple Goddess symbol mean?
The Triple Goddess symbol (often known as the Triple Moon symbol) comprises a full moon in the center, held on each side by a crescent moon. The one on the left is a waxing moon, while the one on the right is a waning moon. This is a sacred symbol for witches, Pagans, and Wiccans.
But what’s the relevance of the moon in this symbol?
“The moon is the Goddess who dies and rises again.”—The Great Cosmic Mother.
Each moon phase links to one of the Maiden, Mother, Crone archetypes and a particular stage in the menstrual cycle. The waxing moon represents the Maiden, the full moon represents the Mother, and the waning moon represents the Crone. The moon’s 29-day cycle is a mirror of our own sacred cycle.
Where does the Triple Goddess concept come from?
Historical records are incredibly limited beyond the past 4000 years. Much information was destroyed, and accounts have been shaped in line with a calculated patriarchal, Christian agenda. Think about it—much of the history we know and are taught in the education system is written by a bunch of white men.
Did the planet ever only consist of white men?
Did we always live in a patriarchal society?
So history must be read and taken with a pinch (or vat) of salt.
The matriarchal birth, death, rebirth concept can be traced back to ancient cultures and various Goddess mythology. It is many millennia older than Christianity, which adopted this idea but switched it from the Goddess to a male God and reduced triplicity to a duality concept that keeps us from uniting both the physical and spiritual together. Three moves us from duality to unity, which is why three was always a sacred number and closely tied to the Goddess and the Mother.
In Celtic religion, Goddess Brigid ruled over three skills: healing, poetry, and smithcraft. Greek Goddess Hera had three roles: girl, woman, and widow. Why is Hecate a Triple Goddess? Because, although she doesn’t follow the Maiden, Mother, Crone aspect, her triplicity is represented by a three-way crossroads—the space between the two worlds (the seen and unseen).
Other traditions see each of the Triple Deity aspects coming from a different Goddess, for example, Diana (a Roman Goddess) as the Maiden, Isis (an Egyptian Goddess) as the Mother, and Kali (a Hindu Goddess) as the Crone.
“The Moon Mother is a Triple Goddess, and her symbols have a triple aspect; for in each the two polar sides are joined in the center, joined by her body: the trunk of the tree, the handle of the double-ax, the center hub of the wheel and still the center of the spiral, the cow who bears the crescent horns, the space and the lintel stone itself joining the directions of the doorway. It is the Mother Goddess who stands herself in the center and joins the opposites in her being.”—The Great Cosmic Mother.
This ancient Triple Goddess concept was largely popularized in modern culture by Robert Graves and his book The White Goddess, published in 1948. He states that Goddesses in ancient cultures were often found in triplets, which had slightly different names in different cultures. These included:
These were not new concepts—Graves was simply sharing truths from ancient cultures that had long since remained underground, twisted, buried, and forgotten.
Maiden Mother Crone unraveled
The Maiden, Mother, Crone archetypes are a large part of the Triple Goddess deity. As I briefly mentioned earlier, each archetype correlates to a phase of the moon, a phase of the menstrual cycle, and a season.
Traditionally, the Crone is represented by the waning moon within the Triple Goddess. However, I have done a lot of my own research and learned from many leaders within this space. This has led me to believe that outside of the Triple Goddess concept, the Crone actually represents the dark moon/new moon phase—she dies and is born again, the same way the moon does.
So, if the Crone rules the new moon phase, who rules the waning moon? Just as the moon has four main phases, there’s a fourth archetype to be aware of: Wild Woman, sometimes known as Medicine Woman or the Enchantress. She represents the waning moon, the luteal, pre-menstrual phase.
Maiden / Waxing Moon / Follicular Phase / Spring
Mother / Full Moon / Ovulatory Phase / Summer
Wild Woman / Waning Moon / Luteal Phase / Autumn
Crone / New Moon / Menstruation Phase / Winter
As you can see, the rhythms of nature and the rhythms of women are deeply connected. We are one and the same.
These archetypes have received some criticism because women don’t rigidly follow the Maiden, Mother, Crone timeline in their lives. For example, not all women will become mothers, and it’s archaic to assume that all women want to get married and have kids. But I don’t interpret it this way. I believe every woman possesses all these archetypes, whether she’s in her teens, her eighties, or anything in between. We may cycle through all of them in a day, a week, a month, or more.
There will be periods in your life where you’re deeply embodying one archetype more than another. Even if you’re not a mother, you may be channeling the mother archetype through community work or mentoring in your business. If you are a mother, you still channel the Maiden archetype when you make time for adventure, play, and fun in your world. It really depends on who you are and where you are in your life at any given moment.
Embracing and being aware of all four archetypes is vital for inner and outer harmony.
The Maiden (sometimes known as the Virgin) is the most masculine of all four archetypes. This is why she is widely accepted and celebrated by our current society (unlike some other archetypes).
She is young at heart, bursting with energy, vibrancy, and optimism, and has a joy for life. She’s carefree, confident, and independent. The Maiden is the woman who has a sparkle in her eyes and exudes a magnetic radiance that can be felt wherever she goes.
The Mother is one with the earth—the elements, plants, animals, and the stars above.
Although the Mother archetype does include birthing and raising children, she is so much more than this. She is nurturing of herself and others, including her children, community, students, family, friends, and total strangers. She is there to support, guide and care to encourage growth.
Too many women fall into the trap of channeling all their Mother energy outward and forget to nourish themselves out of fear of appearing selfish or disappointing others. But self-care is a large part of this archetype—we cannot pour from an empty cup.
The Wild Woman
Wild Woman is the shadow Queen and rules our subconscious. She is the archetype linked to the pre-menstrual phase, often filled with mood swings, crabbiness, irritability, dread, and shame. But the only reason this time is so painful is that we have learned to repress and bury our emotions.
Because otherwise, we get labeled crazy, and people will say, “oh, it must be her time of the month.” You would think it’s just men who shame our sacred cycle in this way, but my own mother repeatedly said this as a way to explain any anger or frustration I directed at her or anyone else throughout my teens.
We are at war with Wild Woman, trying to gag her, but she wants to be seen and heard. She asks us to face our pain, sit with it and feel it. Feel your anxiety, rage, anger, jealousy, resentment, fear, guilt, and shame. Explore where it comes from. Because acknowledging and feeling our pain is the only way to begin to heal from it and move forward.
The Crone is a wise, older woman, so she is sometimes referred to as Wise Woman instead. We have negative connotations around the word Crone today, but this always used to be a term of honor, respect, and value. Older women were always revered in their communities, often assumed a leadership position, and were looked to for advice during times of adversity or uncertainty.
Contrary to what you might think, these women are still very vibrant, sexual beings full of life. Yet, their energy is now mostly directed inward. A Crone in her light side does not hide in the shadows—she celebrates the magic of these later years.
During this phase, a woman slows down; she turns much of her energy inside and becomes more introspective and reflective. This is similar to what we experience when we bleed each month—our energy hits rock bottom, and we are called to retreat inwards. This is the end of one phase, but the beginning of a new one: death and rebirth.
You can read more about the Maiden, Mother, Wild Woman & Crone here:
Beyond the menstrual cycle, I’ve identified 11 feminine archetypes that women cycle through and channel throughout our lives. You can read more about each of these here:
Why wear or use the Triple Goddess symbol?
Just because you don’t believe in or follow the traditions of Paganism or Wicca, it doesn’t mean you can’t connect with and find meaning in the Triple Goddess.
This symbol is a powerful reminder for us as women that we hold worlds of power, strength, and wisdom between our bones. We are the bridge between the two worlds; we are the beginning and end of everything. The Triple Goddess symbol can help you connect to your own sacred cycle as a woman, the moon phases, and the Divine Feminine.
You might want to keep this symbol on your sacred altar or wear a piece of jewelry that embodies it to serve as a beautiful reminder of your gifts.
How to invoke the Triple Goddess in your life
- Think about which archetype is most present for you, along with any you’re ignoring or repressing—how can you embrace these more?
- Deepen your understanding of your menstrual cycle and learn to love and embrace it
- Live and lead in harmony with the natural ebb and flow of your energy
- Have a new moon or full moon ritual, or attend a moon circle
- Activate the Divine Feminine